Shann51, Michelle R, Sarah B, and wiccangirl: Thanks for reviewing, I appreciate it a lot. I hope that you will review both this chapter and my future fictions. More importantly, I hope you enjoy them.
Hellmouth Hottie: First, love the penname. Secondly, all the other stories are finished but the series are not. I'm guessing they're going to continue for a while. I won't be doing all the episodes because that is just tedious, but I pick the juicier ones. Hope you enjoy!
Gigi: Read some of my other fictions, should be enough convincing!
Saifai: laughs I wish, but I figured… I should let Faith in a little bit. I've been dying to write her, so I'm going to do some S3 stuff before I skip to the interesting episodes of S4, which will include (hopefully) both Spike and Hush.
Cali-luv, Jen, L, wiccanlover, and lepetitemorte: Thanks for returning and reviewing my fiction. All questions will be answered once you finish reading the end of my fiction. Remember, my stories are never over until I write "end" at the end of the fic.
Dacie: I love you too. I think if we met in real life we'd be glomping each other like mad. I'm glad that I brightened your day. I dislike Spuffy only because I don't think Buffy deserves Spike, but that's just me. Plus, most of it is fluffy and exactly how you described it. Thank you again for reviewing, it's a great honor. Hope to see more from you soon!
Spikaholic101: No problem, luv, you deserved the recommendation. I hope to see more from you soon, as both an author and a reviewer! Thank you for being loyal to my story (the only chapter you didn't review was Chapter 2!) and stay well.
"…and went out to become what I became." Louis, Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
"Sweet dreams are made of this, who am I to disagree?" –Sweet Dreams by EurythmicsDawn didn't know how long she'd been here; all she knew was that she couldn't leave. Sometimes she dreamt. Memories would come to her of things she didn't remember doing in times and places she had never been. And yet, they seemed so familiar to her. Other times she found herself surrounded by green. She doubted it had anything to do with jealousy. She swore she heard whispering sometimes, like people were talking to her. But their words were so faint. She'd strain so hard to hear them but the murmurs would remain distant. One time, she swore she saw a light beckoning her, but it closed before she could reach it. Currently though, she felt as though she was being tugged in another direction.
She blinked once before she found herself at a Victorian party. She didn't know why it made sense, but she felt like she belonged there. She sensed that she was looking for something, someone. As she walked around, she saw a glance at herself in the mirror and gasped. Her hair was curled and in some strange style that brought out her cheekbones. Her blue eyes popped against her pale skin and her growing breasts were pushed up with what she believed to be a corset. She blushed briefly at she stared down at her new cleavage. She was in an extravagant white dress, a blue choker tied about her neck. She glanced down at the lacy gloves on her hands and the fan to match and felt a little out of place. What was she doing here?
She turned when she heard voices coming from a different room. Taking a deep breath, she stepped out of the room and into... a party? She scanned the room, taking in all the faces before her eyes rested on one. He looked familiar, although she couldn't quite figure out why. He had curly, dirty blonde hair and thin-framed glasses. He looked hopelessly lost in his plain attire, but she couldn't figure out where he was from. Until he looked up, right at her. Ice blue eyes met her gaze and she knew. It was Spike.
She gasped and turned away, covering her blushing face with her fan. She found herself playing with a curl. She managed to look up and found herself in a room, observing Spike and some other woman.
"Your poetry, it's... they're... not written about me, are they?" said the mysterious woman.
"They're about how I feel," he replied nervously.
"Yes, but are they about me?" she asked, obviously becoming impatient.
"Every syllable," Spike confessed, his eyes revealing his heart.
"Oh God!" she cried, horrified.
"Oh I know, it's sudden and please, if they're no good, they're only words but the feeling behind them," he paused, preparing himself. "I love you, Cecily."
Dawn's eyes widened. So the girl had a name. And Spike, Spike was in love.
"Please stop!" Cecily begged, turning away.
He was practically begging now. "I know I'm a bad poet but I'm a good man and all I ask is that... that you try to see me-."
"I do see you," she snapped, interrupting. "That's the problem. You're nothing to me, William. You're beneath me."
Dawn tried to cry out and hit the woman, but she was voiceless and motionless. Stuck as a bystander.
One blink and she was in an alleyway. The scenery wasn't the only thing that had changed. Her clothes had reverted to a simple white cotton dress. Her hair was curled about her shoulders and her feet were bare. She barely noticed any of it. William was crying his heart out and in return, she felt a dull ache in her chest. She hated watching someone she cared about crying. She felt her eyes mist up as he ripped up the remains of his poetry.
Dawn bent down and picked up a scrap, smiling at the words. It actually wasn't that bad.
"You like it, nibblet?" he said.
Startled, Dawn looked up. But William wasn't there anymore. In his place was Spike, leaning against the wall, smoking a cigarette. All confidence and mystery, William's bland attire was replaced with Spike's black duster and jeans.
"Yes," she whispered. "You can see me?"
Spike nodded. "I could always see you."
She stepped closer. "Is this the night when-?"
She didn't need to finish. "Yes. This was the night when Drusilla saved me from a life of being a stupid sod who wrote terrible poetry."
"It's not terrible," she said. "But you just thought about it too much. It's like singing. If you think about it too much, you sound terrible because you're trying too hard. I think you could be a wonderful poet, William."
Spike smiled softly, a reflection of his old self. "Maybe you should have met me in the alleyway all those years ago." He paused and put out the cigarette with the heel of his boot. Almost as an afterthought, he said, "I've never dreamt about you before."
Dawn froze. "Whose dream is this?"
Spike looked at her. "You're still sleeping?"
Dawn shrugged, "I can't wake up."
Spike stepped closer to her. "Then I guess it doesn't matter whose dream it is, does it?"
"No, I guess not," she replied. "Thank you for rescuing me."
He reached out and brushed back a strand of hair. "I'll always protect you, bit. 'till the end of the world."
She hesitated before she stepped forward and embraced him. He looked at her, confused for a moment before wrapping his arms around her. They remained in each other's arms, comforting each other. They knew they wouldn't see each other anytime soon. Suddenly, Spike looked up.
"Sundown," he whispered. "I got to go."
She nodded, "I know."
He caressed her cheek. "If you ever need anything, you know where to find me."
She smiled. "Always."
And then he was gone.
And she was back in the green room. But before she could settle, she felt the scene changing again. Opening her eyes, she immediately looked down. She was barefoot, her toes soaking in the heat from the hot sand. She glanced over her green sundress before looking up. Her lips parted slightly at the sight before her. A vast desert, seemingly never ending met her gaze. She glanced down again to find a shovel and a beach pail at her feet. She bent down and found herself making a sand castle.
She didn't know how long she was there, but as time passed, she felt herself becoming less and less like Dawn and more like her true being. As she formed and shaped the sand into a magnificent castle, her inner child grew quiet as a maturity took over. A sense of reason filled her that could only be achieved through millennia of being. Dawn drowned within her new self until she felt the wisdom take over her.
"Dawnie?" a voice called.
Dawn turned around to find her sister standing behind her, looking confused.
Dawn smiled and returned to her castle. By now, it was large and beautiful. Each feature meticulously shaped into the sand. "This is us, Buffy. Our life. We carve it out so carefully, trying to smooth out mistakes. But no matter what we do, sometimes things happen. And peace is destroyed."
With that, Dawn reached out her arm and with one fatal swoop, wiped out the castle that had taken her hours to build. Buffy cried out in alarm, coming toward her sister.
Dawn looked up at Buffy, serene. It all made sense. "But we can't stop there, Buffy. If we cry, the sand only hardens. We must rebuild and go back to the basics."
Dawn picked up her pail, filled it, and turned it over. Pulling away the pail, a simple childish castle was revealed.
Dawn stood. "It's time to come home."
Buffy looked away, her eyes fogging up. "I can't. I'm not ready."
Dawn smiled. "You'll never be ready."
Buffy frowned, her chin trembling. "How can I go back there? Knowing what I've done?"
Dawn came up to her sister. "You did what you had to do. Something is coming, and you'll have to make your decision."
"Live or give in," she said. "Being a slayer isn't really the easiest task in the world. But it's what you do. I need you to be there."
Buffy looked a little lost. "How do you know all this?"
Dawn smiled. "This is a place outside of time," she said, gesturing to the barren land. "We return to the basics. We are who we really are. No façades, no masks, just you and me."
Buffy noticed something then. Her sister was glowing. Not like a happy glowing, really glowing. She was glowing green.
"I'm going to wake up, Buffy," The Key said. "And I probably won't remember much. But you remember, you promised to come back."
"Dawnie, I-," Buffy started.
The Key shook her head. "We still have to live, Buffy. There's so much more to learn. You just have to be willing to. And when you're ready, I'm waiting. You may think you have no purpose in your life right now, no center. But you do. You have me. And your purpose is to protect me."
"Dawn, I don't-," Buffy began.
The Key smiled, kissing her sister on the forehead. "I'm waiting for you, Buffy."
And with that, The Key closed her eyes.
When Dawn opened her eyes, the first thing she saw was a white ceiling. Next, she heard the melodic beeping of a machine. Turning her head, she saw her mother sitting in a chair by her bed, sleeping.
"Mommy?" she whispered, managing to reach her mother's hand.
Joyce woke with a start, her eyes widening. "Dawn?"
"I'm home, Mom," Dawn smiled.
"Oh God," her mom cried, wrapping her arms around her youngest daughter.
Dawn closed her eyes. She felt her mind grasping at an idea. Something about green, Spike, Buffy... but she couldn't reach it. It slipped through her fingers like warm sand. All she knew was that she had a mom who loved her, a sister who would protect her, and a vampire who cared about her. She didn't know what her dream had tried to tell her. She knew that Spike had become a vampire, and Buffy, a slayer. She didn't know what she was trying to become, but she knew that when it happened, she was ready. And waiting.
The monks watched all of this with silent scrutiny before the leader spoke.
"She is getting too strong. Her true nature will be discovered too soon if this continues."
The other monks nodded. They had frozen time and placed the human capsule of the key within it. Now that they had let time rewrite things with the key in place, its essence was fighting against the child form. At first, all was good. Dawn, the Key, had been a normal child. She would never be guessed to be what it truly was. But now the Key's age had leaked into the holder. By the time that the two time periods overlapped, the Key would not only know who she was, but how to use her power. It would be too dangerous. They decided. They would lock the Key somewhere within the girl's deep subconscious. When the time was right, all would be revealed. Until then, the girl would revert to how she was supposed to act: like a child, not an immortal. They only hoped they weren't making a mistake.